Monday, 19 August 2013



Pronzini and Wilcox combine their superlative talents--and their two popular San Francisco-based detectives, "Nameless" and Lieutenant Frank Hastings--on a harrowing case of murder and bizarre conspiracy surrounding an old California wine-making family.

I’ve read a couple of novels that were collaborations, most recently the Hard Case Crime series starring Max, co-authored by Jason Starr and Ken Bruen. Going back further, there was The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub and coming forward again a PJ Tracy novel which is apparently a mother/daughter writing duo. What these all have in common is that I’m ignorant of which author wrote which bit. This time with Twospot there is probably more clarity as to which author provided which section of the novel. There are chapters devoted to Nameless that are written from his point of view and chapters from Wilcox providing a perspective of the investigation from Hastings. (I say this claiming certainty, but I guess they could have had some fun and changed things up.)

This is the fifth outing for Pronzini’s Nameless detective and it also introduced me to Collin Wilcox and his cop, Frank Hastings. Prior to this I was ignorant of both Wilcox and Hastings, but there is a 19 book series starring the detective. These were published between 1969 and 1995, with the last appearing a year before the author’s death.  Twospot dates back to the late 70’s. One interesting thing for me was Hastings referral to Nameless throughout the book as Bill. Throughout the 40 book series, the author never ascribes his detective a moniker, so it was fun to see Willcox do it for him.

We open with Nameless engaged by Alex Cappelani to investigate his mother’s latest companion. Alex is suspicious of Jason Booker’s motives and is certain he is trying to worm his way into her affections and gain a stake in the family business. Nameless visits Alex at their vineyard, arriving just after Alex has been attacked and rendered unconscious. Nameless himself is attacked and gives chase, but eventually loses his man. When Alex recovers and his suspicions about Booker are confirmed, Nameless is asked by Capellani to meet him so he can confront the boyfriend. Nameless shows up, Alex doesn’t and when our PI inspects the property he finds Booker dead. This is when we meet Willcox’s detective, Frank Hastings.

Hastings and his team start investigating the murder, whilst Nameless fades into the background. Until there is a second attempt on Alex’s life and he is engaged by the matriarch of the family to adopt a bodyguard role for Alex.  With some disgruntled employees and some sibling rivalry in the mix Hastings and Nameless work from opposite ends to resolve the mystery. There’s an interesting twist which shows us, that all is not as it seems.

I enjoyed this outing and it was interesting to see Nameless share the limelight with another author’s well established detective. Probably not my favourite of the 5 in the series that I have read so far, but far from a waste of time. Hastings shares many of the same characteristics of Nameless......honesty, decency, a desire to ensure justice is served and there’s a mutual respect between the two detectives which was to be expected. Nameless in this book, also seems less obsessed with his health having established that his troubling lung lesions are benign; for now at least.

My other 4 reviews are here;

I will be continuing my journey with Nameless and look forward to the next in the series. To be honest, I’m probably not going to revisit Willcox and Hastings unless the book fairy deposits some of his case files on my doorstep as a gift. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy meeting Frank, there’s just too much other stuff both new and old already waiting.  

4 from 5

I obtained my copy second hand recently from Amazon.



  1. Wow, that's really unusual - I've come across collaborations, but not really mash-ups of two detectives. Almost tempted to read it - though presumably it's of most interest to those who follow the two different series. Intriguing.

    1. Moira, I reckon you might like it, late-70's San Francisco - I'll forward you it,

  2. I haven't read this one, or any by Colin Wilcox. My husband did read Twospot, and I asked if he liked it, but it is so long ago he doesn't remember. Still has it, though, of course, so I may go back and pick it up some time. Somewhere in the series, there is also a collaboration between Pronzini and his wife, Marcia Muller.

    1. Tracy, Double which is no.13 (next year sometime) is the book written with his wife. I probably ought to try something by her, but there is nothing on my shelves. I think she has a decent reputation as an author, but then I've only recently come to trying out Pronzini, so she can maybe wait a while.

    2. I read the first in Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone series and I thought it was OK. But I have a couple more to try. I always feel like I need to give an author more than one chance. Unfortunately the series has 29 books so far.

    3. Oh, I think a 29 book series is the last thing I need right now, so I had probably better steer clear of those ones. I checked Fantastic Fiction site a minute ago and she has a couple of 2 or 3 book series which I might plump for, but nothing standalone unless you count another Bill collaboration.